Breakfast in Tunisia

The great undiscovered culinary Shangri-La of the Mediterranean in my mind is Algeria and Tunisia. Algeria has been off limits for some 25 years because of the civil war which erupted in the early 1990s, and Tunisia was the initiator of the Arab Spring some years ago and has always been more popular with Europeans […]

Sardinia’s Way with Peas in Soup

Springtime in Sardinia means fava beans, peas, and a variety of other vegetables and fruit. One favorite way with fresh spring peas is in a minestra. A minestra can mean both a soup and a first course. But the difference between a zuppa (soup) and a minestra is that a minestra is usually a thicker […]

Fava In A Moroccan Way

For fava devotees we are about to see those inviting fava bean pods appearing at our farmers markets. A delightful way to prepare the fresh fava beans is a way found in Morocco. In Morocco, this purée is served as a meze and called rafissa al-fūl or rafissa “de fèves fraîches” and can be served […]

Bigoli, The Latest Hot New Pasta

Bigoli is actually not the latest hot new pasta as Venetians have known of it for centuries. However, in America, where food fads are driven by newness rather than tradition you’ll be hearing more about it. Bigoli in salsa, an old and beloved Venetian preparation made on Good Friday. A Venetian would know that bigoli […]

Czech Out Peas and Barley!

Czech it out is a silly expression we used as college students on our first visit to Czechoslovakia.  I couldn’t resist the title. Seriously, one should check out Czech food. Czech food is not something I cook very often although I like Czech food. Part of the reason for that is there are very few […]

Hasu – A Spicy Soup of the Algerian Jews

Bread bakers set aside a portion of yeasted dough to act as a starter for the next batch of bread. This starter is called a sponge, poolish, levain de boulanger in French, and biga in Italian. But in this medieval soup of the Jews of North Africa it is the foundation to a soup. The […]

Mantı, The Turkish and Armenian Delicacy Everyone Should Make

The roots of everyday Turkish cuisine, as opposed to the court cuisine, are found in the Turkic tribes of the Central Asia and perhaps the pre-existing Greek inhabitants of Anatolia.  As the Turkish food authority Nevin Halıcı suggests, a study of the food habits of contemporary Kazan Turks and Tatars might indicate a close relationship […]

A Provençal Stuffed Cabbage for A Cold Day

Sou fassum, the Provençal name, is known in French as chou farci à la Niçoise. It is a specialty of the region around Grasse. Traditionally, the stuffed cabbage leaves are placed in a net made of thick threads called a fassumier that is then lowered into a good chicken broth to be cooked. Although cabbage […]

Meatballs and Rice in a Middle Eastern Way

This preparation popular in Lebanon and Syria was not always so. In the eighteenth century Damacenes, like all Syrians, preferred wheat and switched to rice and other grains only when wheat became too expensive or was in short supply. But rice was a relatively pricey import from Egypt and was considered a luxury and never […]

Stew as the Wife of the Cordoban Farmer Would Make It

This delicious winter stew from Córdoba in Andalusia is called olla cortijera de Córdoba in Spanish and is long simmered cabbage and chickpea stew. Andalusians are quite fond of cumin as a spice. The plant was brought to Spain from North Africa and entered the cuisine. The famous Spanish Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam, who flourished […]

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